United Kingdom

UK businesses experiencing impact of dementia on workforce

August 2015


A growing number of UK businesses are experiencing a rise in employees suffering from dementia, new research has found.

The research carried out by PMI Health Group into eldercare and the workplace, found that nearly 8 per cent of the 174 HR professionals polled had previously encountered staff with dementia. 90 per cent said they believed firms should be concerned by the increasing numbers of staff with dementia and three-quarters specifically agreed with recommendations by the Alzheimer’s Society for every UK business to have a dementia policy.

In particular, the PMI Health Group research concluded that more and more businesses were becoming affected by dementia either through staff developing the illness themselves or through staff caring for relatives with the condition.

As such:

  • 29 per cent of respondents said they had allowed staff time off to care for relatives with dementia
  • 69 per cent said they had offered flexible working options to allow staff to care for their relatives

According to Mark Witte, Senior Consultant at Aon Employee Benefits, the removal of the default retirement age and the acceleration in the timetable for the increase in the State Pensions Age are key factors in placing the ageing workforce issue at the forefront of the corporate agenda.

“Diligent employers will need to take time to quantify and understand how issues such as dementia -- both for their employees and their dependents - may impact the business and therefore be able to adopt an informed progressive policy to manage these challenges,” he said.

Dementia UK’s own figures indicate that there are currently 800,000 people living with dementia in the UK.

“Employers will have an important role encouraging employees to live healthier lives to mitigate the risk of dementia, as well as many other health and lifestyle risks, and where appropriate support employees who are trying to balance fulfilling their employment duties with potentially acting as a carer,” Witte added.

The latest findings tie in with 2014 CIPD research which found that one third of employers were seeing rising absence levels due to staff trying to balance caring responsibilities for elderly relatives.

In addition, 69 per cent of respondents to the PMI Health Group research said they felt employers should offer eldercare workplace benefits – such as helplines and access to specialists - to their staff in light of the new trend.

Commenting on the research, Mike Blake, PMI Health Group director warned that the number of people with dementia is expected to increase to one million by 2021. “An ageing workforce means employees may be affected as both sufferers and carers,” he said. “It is heartening to see from our survey that employers are now considering the need to provide education on the condition and to support staff who are either suffering from the condition or caring for someone with the condition.”

Summing up, Witte said: “Understanding the potential impact of an ageing workforce is essential if a company is looking for a strong supporting business case to drive a more progressive agenda. Through fully understanding the company’s risk profile and how the current and future demographic will effect this, HR teams can ensure that existing procedures and resources are effectively aligned and gaps in benefit provision or policy identified and filled.”



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